The Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce, in a recent press note, has reiterated that no new films will release in South India from March 1 to protest the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) charged by the Digital Service Providers. While the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam film industries are said to participate in the strike, some reports say that exhibitors are not in favour of a complete shut down.
The press note added that while there’s no change in the scheduled shut down, another meeting with the DSPs will be held on Friday, following which a decision will be made.
March 1 onwards it looks like there will not be any new releases from south Cinema. The strike against Digital Service Providers over Virtual Print Fee is by producers. Exhibitors unlikely to take part, as they feel total shutdown will increase audiences apathy. pic.twitter.com/FmiLcx6RJX
— Sreedhar Pillai (@sri50) February 18, 2018
Speaking about the issue, General Secretary of the TFCC, Muthyala Ramadoss, told Deccan Chronicle: “Currently, the distributors are paying the charges for digital projection (about Rs 20,000 per week) of the film. Actually, these charges are to be borne either by the exhibitor or DSPs because the latter is installing the equipment in the premises of the former. So how are the distributors concerned? All the people — the producers’ council, the distributor council, exhibitor council and studio council — are important to us.”
The Virtual Print Fee is said to include the cost of installing equipment, and delivery of content through digital distribution in theatres among others. The DSPs also reportedly claim a share of the advertising revenue. A Firstpost article quotes TFPC President Vishal as saying: “A major chunk of our profit goes to them. We have attended the meeting and informed them of our stance. They had originally promised us that the prices would be slashed after five years. But 12 years have passed since theatre projection moved from prints to digital, and the rates are so high that we are forced to pay over Rs 27 lakh for a film per month to get it released in 100 centres. We are likely to shut down production and will not release any new films from March 1 till our demands are met.”
If both the committees fail to come to terms with each other at the final meeting, the strike will affect movies such as Vishal’s Irumbu Thirai, Jiiva-starer Kee, and the Telugu film Rangasthalam, starring Ram Charan and Samantha Akkineni, which are slated for a March release.